Why Do I Have Diarrhoea?

Why Do I Have Diarrhoea?

Diarrhoea Causes and Treatments for the Runs


Diarrhoea, the runs, the trots, whatever creative name you have for it, you know that if you’ve got it you’re not in for a good time.


But what is diarrhoea and what exactly is leaving you sat on the toilet wishing it would just end already?


Well, here at Chemist4U we know more about diarrhoea than most people would ever like to and we’re here to share our knowledge so you can find out how to treat your poor dodgy stomach.



What is diarrhoea?


When you have diarrhoea it means that you’ll be spending a lot of time on the toilet passing watery or loose poo.


It’s not pleasant, but everyone goes through it at one point or another and it usually lasts for a couple of days or up to a week.


It happens when extra fluids are pushed into your bowel, making your poo watery and giving you that urgent “I gotta go NOW” feeling.



Sickness and diarrhoea


When you get diarrhoea you might also find that it brings its best friend vomiting along with it, because isn’t that just exactly what you wanted?


This is because vomiting and diarrhoea have a lot of similar causes, so if your stomach is upset then it might leave you dealing with both of these problems at once.


Usually, your vomiting will stop after 1 or 2 days whereas diarrhoea can often last for longer, but let’s be honest, having to deal with one of them is miles better than dealing with both at once!



What causes diarrhoea?


Diarrhoea is usually caused by a stomach bug like gastroenteritis or norovirus, which can cause diarrhoea and vomiting.


These illnesses are no fun, but they usually clear up within a few days to a week, so you’ll just have to grin and bear it.


Another common cause of diarrhoea is anxiety or stress, which can affect how your bowel is working and leave you running for the toilet - just what you need when you’re already anxious!


Some people also find that they experience diarrhoea as a side effect to some medications or medical treatments.


Some antibiotics and SSRI’s have diarrhoea as a side effect, and of course, laxatives can cause diarrhoea. Some people also have diarrhoea as a side effect of cancer treatments like chemotherapy or radiotherapy.



Why do I have diarrhoea after eating?


Diarrhoea can be caused by something you’ve eaten, especially if you have a food intolerance, food allergy, or a bowel condition like IBS, Crohn’s disease, or coeliac disease.


In these cases, the best way to treat your diarrhoea will be to manage the condition itself, so make sure to ask your doctor for advice and treatment options.


You may also have diarrhoea as a result of food poisoning, which happens if your food isn’t prepared properly or has gone off.


If you don’t have a long-term condition which causes diarrhoea, think about the foods you’ve eaten recently and try to work out whether one of them could have been the culprit.



How can I treat diarrhoea?


One of the most popular ways to treat diarrhoea is to take diarrhoea tablets, which can help to stop your diarrhoea for a few hours.


These medications are available over the counter from pharmacies and they contain active ingredients like loperamide, which helps to slow down your overactive bowel so you won’t pass as many stools.


Diarrhoea tablets aren’t suitable for children over 12, so make sure you use other treatments like ORS sachets if you’re looking after a little one with diarrhoea or sickness.


Of course, if your diarrhoea is caused by a long-term condition or something like anxiety or stress it’s best to treat the cause rather than the symptom, so speak to your doctor for advice on managing your condition and easing your poor stomach.



Oral Rehydration Solution (ORS) Sachets


When you have diarrhoea or vomiting one of the biggest risks is that you may become dehydrated as your body loses a lot of fluids.


Oral Rehydration Solutions (ORS) are vital at times like these, as they help to replace the water, salts, sugars, and other minerals lost from your body when you’re unwell.


These sachets are mixed into a glass of water so you can drink them slowly to help prevent dehydration, and they’re available in lots of different flavours.


Many ORS sachets can be given to children with no problems, so make sure your child takes regular sips of these if they’re suffering from diarrhoea.


Children can be more vulnerable to dehydration than adults, so making sure that they drink little and often is really important when they’ve got an iffy tummy.



What should I eat when I have diarrhoea?


There are no foods you should actively avoid when you have diarrhoea, although you may want to eat plain foods that will be kinder to your stomach.


You should start to eat solid foods as soon as you feel like you can, and we’d recommend sticking to small, light meals while your stomach settles.


Things like potatoes, rice, bananas, soup, and boiled vegetables are all good choices when your stomach isn’t at its best, and salty foods are a good way to help your body regain the salts it’s lost through diarrhoea. Remember to keep drinking plenty of fluids while you eat, as avoiding dehydration is extremely important.



Are there any natural remedies for diarrhoea?


The best natural remedy for diarrhoea is simply to drink plenty of water or squash, as this can help you to avoid dehydration until your diarrhoea eases.


If you’re feeling sick then drink small sips of fluids, little and often is the key.


Don’t drink fruit juice or fizzy drinks as these can make your dodgy stomach even worse, just stick to water or squash as well as drinking ORS drinks regularly.



What is travellers' diarrhoea?


Travellers’ diarrhoea is a type of diarrhoea that happens when you go away on holiday.


It’s normally caused by a stomach bug, just like any other diarrhoea, and it’s particularly common if you visit areas with poor public hygiene.


It can spread through infected food or water, so always make sure to be very careful about what you eat and to wash your hands or use hand sanitising gel before you eat or handle food.


If you get travellers' diarrhoea, make sure you only drink safe water when you’re recovering and be careful about the water you use to make up oral rehydration solutions.



Can you get diarrhoea when you’re on your period?


Some women find that they get diarrhoea when they’re on their period - because we’re just not suffering enough during that time of the month, right?


It’s nothing to worry about and is just a normal part of your monthly cycle, along with the cramps and the mood swings and the ravenous appetite.


On the other end of the scale, some women find that they experience constipation during their period instead, which is great when you’re already dealing with bloating!


Again, this is perfectly normal, just another uncomfortable symptom to deal with once a month.



Diarrhoea during pregnancy


You can experience diarrhoea during pregnancy, especially during your first trimester when digestive issues are common.


All of the changes your body is going through can affect your bowel as much as anything else, so it’s no surprise that diarrhoea can happen as well.


However, you’ll usually find that constipation is much more common during pregnancy than diarrhoea, as all of the excess progesterone in your system slows down your bowel and clogs you up.


No matter which end of the spectrum you’re dealing with, ask your doctor, pharmacist, midwife, or health visitor for some advice for how to ease it during your pregnancy.



When should I go to my doctor?


Usually, your diarrhoea won’t need a trip to the doctor (which is good news, because who wants to be too far away from their toilet when they have diarrhoea?), but sometimes your symptoms will require a doctor's visit.


If you’ve had diarrhoea for more than 7 days then you should see a doctor, and you should definitely make a doctors appointment if you notice any blood in your poo or bleeding from your bottom.


You should also see a doctor if you’ve taken oral rehydration solution sachets but are still showing signs of dehydration, like dark pee, feeling thirsty, or dry mouth, lips, or eyes.


There are some symptoms that come with diarrhoea which may need a trip to A&E, just to be safe, such as a sudden, severe headache or stomach ache, or a stiff neck and pain when you look at bright lights.


You should also make your way to A&E if you think you might have swallowed something poisonous, and if you could give the staff at A&E as much information as possible about what you’ve swallowed that could really help them to work out what’s going on.



Well, now you hopefully know a lot more about diarrhoea than you did when you started and doesn’t that feel great?


Remember, if you’re ever unsure about your symptoms or whether any treatments are right for you, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.


They’ll help you to get that stomach bug under control so you can part ways with your toilet for a while.


Laura Henderson - Medical Content Writer
James O'Loan - CEO & Superintendent Pharmacist
James O'Loan , CEO & Superintendent Pharmacist on 17 September 2021
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